Families forced to postpone funerals after 9 bodies stored in morgue with body of Covid-19 patient

Bereaved family members wait for the bodies of their loved ones at the KwaMhlanga Hospital’s mortuary in Mpumalanga. (Balise Mabona, News24)
Bereaved family members wait for the bodies of their loved ones at the KwaMhlanga Hospital’s mortuary in Mpumalanga. (Balise Mabona, News24)

  • The families of nine people, who died in Mpumalanga, have to wait before they can bury their loved ones as their bodies were stored with the body of a person who had died of Covid-19. 
  • The Mpumalanga health department said staff did not know the person had died of Covid-19 and took the body to the mortuary where the other bodies were kept. 
  • All the bodies will now have to be buried in line with coronavirus regulations. 


The families of nine people, who died in Mpumalanga, have to wait before they can bury their loved ones after the body of a person who had died of Covid-19 was mistakenly stored in the same mortuary at KwaMhlanga Hospital. 

Following the mistake, the hospital refused to release the bodies for burial for several days. 

Busi Masango of Tweefontein Village told News24 on Thursday her sister died of natural causes at KwaMhlanga Hospital on June 21.

READ | Covid-19 hits burial rites  

She said hospital management had refused to give them her body and allegedly told the family her sister's body might have been infected with Covid-19.

"We want to know why the hospital kept the body of a person suspected to have died of the coronavirus with other bodies," said Masango.

"We spent a lot of money arranging to bury my sister today [Thursday]. We have to spend more money again. This is unfair."

Pleading with management

Another furious family member, Vusi Mkhwebane, said his family had spent all of Wednesday pleading with the management to give them his uncle's body.

"We left the hospital at 7pm without the body. This experience worsened our grief and we want answers," he said.

KwaMhlanga Hospital
A hearse waits outside the premises of KwaMhlanga Hospital in Mpumalanga on Thursday after the hospital released nine bodies, which it kept for four days following the death of a patient due to Covid-19. (Balise Mabona, News24)


Mpumalanga health department spokesman Dumisani Malamule confirmed the hospital had kept nine bodies in its mortuary for four days after the body of the Covid-19 patient was stored in the facility.

He said the patient, whose gender he did not disclose, was admitted to the hospital on June 20 with suspected coronavirus symptoms.

"The patient was tested for Covid-19 after admission but he/she died the following day," said Malamule.

"People who took the body of this patient to the mortuary did not know that this patient was a Covid-19 suspect. We therefore had to keep all the bodies that were stored with the body of this patient while waiting for the test results of the patient. We wanted to establish whether the bodies were also infected with Covid-19."

Positive result

Malamule said the hospital received the test results on Wednesday night which confirmed the patient had died of Covid-19.

"We apologise to the affected families for the inconvenience. The nine bodies will also be treated like those of Covid-19 patients and be buried in line with Covid-19 regulations."

He added the hospital was still fully operational but its mortuary area was being fumigated. 


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